Blog

All Your Baby Car Seat Questions, Answered.

Each time you venture out in your vehicle with your child, it’s important to keep proper use of their car seat on your mind as one of the most important jobs you have is keeping them safe while along for the ride. With holiday travel rapidly approaching, we know you may have a few questions regardless of whether you are a new parent or simply looking for more educational information.

Proper choice and use of a car seat can help avoid your family being part of the yearly statistic including thousands of young children being injured or killed in car crashes. The type of car seat which will best suit your needs will depend on your child’s age and size as well as the type of vehicle you have.

Types of Car Seats at a Glance:

This chart is a quick guide on where to start your search. It's important to continue your research to learn about each seat you use:

types of carseats

*Chart Source: HealthChildren.org

Installing Your Car Seat: Seat Belts & LATCH

Car seats offer the option to be installed with either the vehicle's seat belt or LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system. 

What is LATCH?latch diagram

LATCH is an attachment system for car seats where lower anchors (for use instead of seat belts) are located in the back seat, where the seat and cushions meet. While the seat belt and LATCH systems are both equally safe, some find the LATCH system easier to use. Nearly all passenger vehicles and all car seats made on or after September 1, 2002, are equipped to use LATCH.

Installing Car Seat using your vehicle's seat belt:

Always make sure the seat belt locks to ensure you have a proper tight fit. Refer to the vehicle owner's manual for details about how your seat belt locks.

Where in the car should you install?: The safest place to ride for all children younger than 13 years is the back & middle seat. If it’s difficult to get the seat properly installed in the middle back seat, always remember that a child passenger safety technician (CPST) can help you decide which place is best to install your child's car seat in your vehicle.

Rear- Facing Car Seats for Infants & Toddlers:

The AAP recommends that all infants ride rear facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital and until they are at least 2 years of age or, preferably, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer.

Types of Rear-Facing Seats: 

There are three types of rear-facing seats available: rear-facing–only, convertible, and 3-in-1. Once a child reaches the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their rear-facing–only seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible or 3-in-1 seat. All rear facing seats should be used only for travel within the vehicle.

Rear-facing–only seats

  • Used for infants up to 22 to 40 pounds, depending on the model.
  • Small and have carrying handles.
  • Usually come with a base that can be left in the car. The seat clicks into and out of the base so you don't have to install it each time you use it. It can be helpful to buy more than one base for additional vehicles. 

Convertible seats

  • Can be used as rear facing and, later, converted for forward-facing use.
  • Typically bulkier than infant seats and do not come with carrying handles or separate bases.
  • Many have higher limits in rear-facing weight (up to 40–50 pounds) and height than rear-facing–only seats, which make them ideal for bigger babies and toddlers.
  • Have a 5-point harness that attaches at the shoulders, at the hips, and between the legs. 

3-in-1 seats

  • Can be used rear facing, forward facing, or as a belt-positioning booster.
  • Are often larger in size, so it is important to check that they fit in your preferred vehicle(s) while rear facing.
  • Do not typically come with a carrying handle or separate base
  • May have higher limits in rear-facing weight (up to 40–50 pounds) and height than rear-facing–only seats, which make them ideal for bigger babies and toddlers.

 

What if my baby's feet touch the back of the vehicle seat?

This is a very common question and concern of parents. However, don’t worry! Children are comfortable in the rear-facing seat as they are able to easily bend their legs, and injuries are extremely rare in this position.

slouching in car seat

What if my baby slouches down or to the side while in their seat?

The diagram to the left should be helpful for how to solve slouching problems. Remember to never place padding under or behind your infant or use any sort of car seat insert unless it was made by the manufacturer for use with that specific seat.  

Remove bulky clothing before strapping your baby in:

When your child is wearing bulky clothing (such as winter coats or snowsuits), it can allow too much compression and loosen their safety straps in the case of a crash. It is best to dress your baby in thinner layers and tuck a blanket over and around your baby after they are buckled in.

 

 

If your child is about to outgrow their rear facing car seat, please take a look at our suggested links for more informational reading below:Car Seat Ages and Stages

For information on Forward Facing Car Seats for Toddlers visit:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Forward-Facing-Car-Seats-for-Toddlers-Preschoolers.aspx

For information on Booster Seats for School – Aged – Children visit: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Booster-Seats-for-School-Aged-Children.aspx

For helpful hints while shopping for car seats visit:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Shopping-for-Car-Seats-Tips-for-Parents.aspx

Popular Articles

Latest Articles

pal logo bottom